|Posted on September 25, 2009 at 2:10 AM|
The only people I know who call Inari sushi Footballs are my Japanese-American friends. When I first heard it called that way, I laughed. I didn't understand anything about the game because I had just moved from Japan but I knew what a football looked like and I could see the resemblance. In Japan, we call Inari zushi Oinari-san, with an honorific "o" and "san" at the beginning and end. It's because Inari also happens to be the Japanese mythological God of fertility. It turns out that this God has a fox servant who loves deep fried tofu.
Don't ask me how a fox acquired a taste for such food but if you visit a shrine or temple in Japan where Inari is worshipped, you will sometimes find an Inari sushi or a piece of deep fried Tofu hanging in a place as an offering to Inari and the fox. I hear Buddhist monks don't encourage this practice but worshipers do it. Now God Inari, the Fox and the Sushi share the same name: Oinari-san.
In the last ten years, Inari sushi has become very popular in the US. If there is a market that sells sushi, I usually find Inari along with California and Spicy tuna rolls. But I never buy them. I find store made Inaris terribly sugary and the sushi rice is often dry from sitting in the refrigerated display. I know the health department imposes certain rules but sushi should never go in the fridge. Inaris should be eaten right away when they are plumpy and juicy.
Inaris are easy to make at home. Kids love them. When my son Sakae was in highschool, I would make a large plate of inaris as an afternoon snack He would bring a half a dozen of his waterpolo team mates ( big guys) over and within minutes, all the inaris would disappear along with everything else in the fridge.
Marking an inari is like stuffing a pillow with feathers. Same theory applies. Try to get the stuffing to reach the corners but don't over stuff. Start by stuffing the seasoned tofu pouches with plain sushi rice. When you get comfortable making inaris, you can try mixing plain sushi rice with vegetables. If braising vegetables like I did in this recipe is too much work, you can shred raw carrots or slice up some cucumbers, rub them with a little salt, squeeze out the excess water and put them in the sushi rice. Be creative.
FOOTBALLS WITH PLAIN SUSHI RICE - Junior Varsity
What you need to make Footballs - Inaris are two things: Seasoned Tofu Pouches and Sushi Rice.
SEASONED TOFU POUCHES:
16 Deep fried tofu pieces (Four pieces in a package. See picture.) - In Japanese deep fried tofu is called Age or Abura age
3 1/2 Tbls Sugar
1 1/2 Tbls Mirin
3 Tbls Soy sauce
This Oagesan brand contains 4 inari pouches.
Deep fried tofu pouches are sold in either small or large pieces. The small ones are the size of one Inari pouch. If they are large, slice them crosswise in half and you have two Inari pouches. Blanch the pouches in hot water to remove the excess oil before seasoning them. Drain well.
Cook the blanched tofu pouches in dashi, sugar, mirin and soy sauce over low heat until the deep fried tofu pouches absorb most of the broth. Remove from heat. Store in a tupperware.
The inaris will absorb most of the seasoned broth. You want
the inaris to have some broth left in them so they come out
moist when you eat them
(makes enough rice to stuff 16 inari sushi)
1 3/4 cups short or medium grain white rice
1 3/4 cups water
2 inch piece dried konbu seaweed (optional)
Vinegared dressing for Rice:
4 Tbls rice vinegar
2 1/2 Tbls sugar
2/3 tsp salt
Rinse the rice and drain. Cook the rice with the measured water and a piece of
dried konbu seaweed in the rice cooker or in a pot. Follow manufacturer's instructions
for steaming rice. Discard the seaweed.
When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the vinegared dressing by pouring it evenly all over the rice. Cut the vinegar into the rice with a rice paddle or wooden spatula. Toss gently. Make sure the vinegar is incorporated into the rice evenly.
Slit one side of the seasoned pouch. "Gently" squeeze some of the broth and open the pouch using your fingers. Don't squeeze too much of the broth out and be careful not to tear the pouch. If you do, chop it up and put it into the sushi rice or eat it! You should be able to put 1/3 cup or more sushi rice in each pouch. Close the pouch so the rice doesn't spill out. Fold one end on top of the other to seal and then the pouch over to the other side so the seal is at the bottom. That will hold the pouch together. Makes 16 footballs.
4 Tbls roasted sesame seeds
Sushi Ginger Recipe (here is the link)
Braised Carrot and burdock
1 medium carrot
1 Tbls vegetable oil
1 Tbls sugar
2/3 Tbls soy sauce
Peel the carrot and burdock and cut them into 1/8 inch cubes.
Heat oil in a frying pan and saute the cut vegetables over medium heat. Add sugar and soysauce and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Slice The braised mushrooms and then chop finely.
Combine the chopped braised Shitake, Burdock and Carrots and mix them into the sushi rice. If there is too much juice in the vegetables, squeeze out excess before mixing them into the sushi rice.